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Published: Friday, 5/4/2001

Concrete pillar collapse kills Huron County man

NORTH FAIRFIELD, Ohio - Gary Coy had recently bought a hammock, and family members said he decided Wednesday night that it was the time to set it up.

So Mr. Coy attached the hammock's strings to two concrete pillars outside his home and sat down to test it out. But one of the pillars collapsed, causing the concrete to fall down and crush him.

“When he got into it, it fell down,” said Paul Bursiel, Mr. Coy's brother-in-law.

Mr. Coy, 35, a construction worker and father of two, was pronounced dead less than two hours later at Medical College of Ohio Hospitals in Toledo, where he was taken by helicopter.

The 6-foot, 242-pound man died from multiple injuries to the chest and abdomen, said Dr. Cynthia Beisser, a Lucas County deputy coroner.

Family members said Mr. Coy had spent the past several years building his two-story home on Prospect Street, where the accident occurred. He was constantly working to complete the house and planned one day to build a spiral staircase inside the structure.

“He designed it himself and built it on his own,” his sister, Sharleen Bursiel, said. “He was very creative, very artistic. He never sat.”

Mr. Bursiel said his brother-in-law enjoyed his family and construction.

“He was a good husband. He was a good worker. And he was a good daddy,” Mr. Bursiel said. “His son, John Paul, stuck to him like mud on the bottom of your shoes.”

Mr. Bursiel said he saw Mr. Coy and his wife, Kathleen, about a half-hour before the 7 p.m. accident in this southern Huron County community, about 75 miles east of Toledo.

He said Mrs. Coy had mentioned something about her husband wanting to set up the hammock.

Shortly afterward, Mr. Bursiel said he heard sirens and received a page that Mr. Coy had been injured. Mr. Bursiel said he jumped into his car and drove to the Coy's home around the corner, where he helped to remove concrete from Mr. Coy's body.

Mr. Bursiel said Mr. Coy's son, John Paul, 4, witnessed the accident and tried to remove the concrete from his father's chest all by himself.

“He was there and he saw it all,” Mr. Bursiel said. “He even directed the ambulance to his father.”

Lt. LuAnn Gatton, of the Huron County sheriff's department, said the pillar that gave way was a freestanding structure consisting of about 15 concrete blocks. The second pillar was secured to the roof of the house.

Mr. Bursiel said Mr. Coy had used reinforcements when he built the pillars outside of his home.



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